Better farming practices key to combating desertification and drought

Combating desertification and drought is critical, but focusing on the bigger challenge of unsustainable agriculture can deliver more for farmers. Research from India offers new insights on practical solutions for better soil fertility, more efficient water use, reduced air pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The world has made significant progress in reducing poverty and malnutrition over the last century. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut by half over the last twenty years, while the percentage of young children suffering from the effects of malnutrition has also declined 17 percent in fewer than 20 years (UNICEF). Yet these improvements have come at a cost to our planet. Can we feed the world and fight poverty without continuing to deplete water, degrade soils and change our climate?

June 17 is the UN Day to Combat Drought and Desertification, which puts a spotlight on efforts to reverse land and soil degradation. Land degradation and drought affect farmers everywhere, especially poor farmers, but tackling these issues without looking at the big picture may not accomplish the long-term change needed, according to researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).